Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The WNBA has kicked off the 2004 incarnation of the "This Is Who I Am" marketing campaign. I've seen the TV ad a couple times, and I think it's pretty good. (But who the hell is Fefe Dobson? And what the hell sort of name is "Fefe"?)

Most importantly, it looks like a big improvement over last year's campaign.

The stated goal of the campaign is to show that the WNBA stars are more than just basketball players. We're supposed to see what the players are "really like" off the court. But last year, all we got were a handful of stars in tight clothes and Sue Bird in do-me poses.

It failed on a number of levels. To begin with, it didn't show us anything about the players' off-the-court true selves. Does Ticha really spend her time in skin-tight leather slinking around hotrod cars?

As Rebecca Lobo said in response to Bird's I'm not as sweet as you think I am line: "I'm 100 percent certain that was a line that Sue was told to say. So is that who she is? No, it's not. When I saw the commercial my reaction was, 'No, Sue is as sweet as you think she is.'"

Consequently, the ads seemed less like an honest attempt to let us get to know the players than a cheap attempt to use sex to generate some interest.

I didn't like that. It seemed, you know, contrary to all that MacKinnonite leftist propaganda they pounded into my head at law school Plus, the ads weren't sexy anyway.

Faced with widespread criticism, some of the players essentially responded that the ads were successful precisely because of the controversy -- that anything that generates interest in the league is good. Of course, by that logic, you might as well pose in Playboy or play topless. Plus, the ads weren't exactly remarkably successful in filling seats last year.

This year seems quite a bit better. Yes, there's still enough midriff to fill a state fair midway. But it's an improvement for several reasons.

First, there's a bunch of new faces. My girl Katie Smith, eg, finally gets some love.

Second, we actually see some athletic shots mixed in. We get some sweat. We get some weightlifting and punching bag shots mixed in with the glam shots. We get some actual basketballs.

And third, they've done away with the cheesy soft porn mag rip offs. (Hammon's shots are the only ones that really approach the line: lots of makeup, almost-cleavage, fingers tugging down the waistline slightly...)

So, I think we're moving in the right direction. I still don't think the ads probably bring a lot of people to the game. They have no sense of humor, they don't have much edge, and as the kids have told us, they just aren't cool. But at least they're no longer embarrassing.